The Windows Tablet: Microsoft still doesn't get it.

Discussion in 'iPad' started by *LTD*, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. *LTD* macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009

    Review: $550 tablet doesn't make Windows look good
    Review: Sluggish Archos 9 demonstrates pitfalls of tablet PCs, need for new tack by Microsoft

    By Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer , On Wednesday February 10, 2010, 3:13 pm

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Apple brings out its iPad tablet computer in late March, but other companies are already preparing a new batch of tablets running Windows. Judging by a model that's already out, the $550 Archos 9, the Windows tablets have a rough road ahead.

    Windows just doesn't seem at home when squeezed into this 1.8-pound slab, with a touch-sensitive screen that is 8.9 inches on the diagonal. It's sluggish, and the controls aren't adapted to the size of the screen or the fact that there's no real keyboard or mouse.

    On-screen keyboards kept popping up in the wrong places, blocking the fields where I wanted to enter text and the buttons I wanted to push. I struggled to hit the little "x" in the corner of the window to close it, so I had to fall back on guiding the mouse cursor with a small touch pad that's built into the tablet's frame.

    It's also a bad idea to couple a touch screen with a slow computer. When I pressed an on-screen button, I found myself wondering whether the computer had failed to register the press or whether it was just working on reacting. I kept jabbing at the screen like I was poking at a lazy dog, just to be on the safe side.

    Archos 9 is lethargic because it runs Windows 7 on a processor that's even slower than those used in netbooks -- those slow, small laptops. How slow is it? Windows rates computers from 1.0 to 7.9 based on how fast the hardware is, and places the Archos 9 at a 1.3 -- the lowest I've seen. It takes nearly two minutes to boot up. TV shows on stutter so badly they're like slide shows with a soundtrack.

    It's a little disconcerting that the Windows tablet experience is so poor, nine years after Microsoft made a big push for its Tablet PC version of Windows XP. Clearly, Microsoft hasn't really adapted Windows properly for this type of device.

    Now, the fact that the Archos 9 has a full-blown desktop operating system does mean it has some features the iPad won't match. It has a USB port, so you can connect a DVD drive, flash drive or printer to it. It runs ubiquitous Windows applications. It has a camera, so you can use it for videoconferencing, at least at very low resolutions.

    Perhaps the best feature is a fold-out stand, so you can prop the tablet up on a table.


    Also in its favor, the Archos is relatively cheap, especially compared to the Tablet PCs of old.

    Still, it's hard to imagine what the tablet is really for. It's not good for playing games, taking notes or writing e-mail. You might use it as an extra device for casual Web access when roaming around at home. The built-in Wi-Fi antenna provides excellent reception. If you attach the Archos 9 to a cabinet door, it could be a pretty good kitchen computer, for recipes and music. Too bad it plays online video so poorly.

    It does do a decent job of playing videos that are stored without copy protection on its 60-gigabyte hard drive. The battery lasted for four hours doing this, which is pretty good. When I tried to play copy-protected video bought from iTunes, it was back to the slideshow effect.

    It's not designed for vertical use, so forget about flipping it around and using it as a full-color Kindle e-reader replacement. You could go into the settings and change the screen to a vertical orientation, but all the hardware buttons will end up in the wrong places. Also, the screen's image quality is not very good.

    It's likely that other Windows tablets this year will be better than the Archos 9, particularly if they use a different touch-sensing technology. Archos chose a so-called "resistive" sensor, which isn't as sensitive as the "capacitive" type used in the iPhone. That means the bezel is raised, making it hard to touch things at the edge of the screen, where Windows puts a lot of important buttons. The touch overlay is also the reason the image quality is poor. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Microsoft gave a brief glimpse of a tablet from Hewlett-Packard Co. that appeared to have a capacitive touch screen, which avoids all these issues.

    But if tablet computers are ever going to be a mainstream product, they'll probably need a complete rethinking of the software. That's what Apple will be providing with the iPad. Rather than scaling down its Mac OS X for the tablet, Apple is scaling up its iPhone operating system. With software designed for much more modest chips, the iPad will be a lot snappier than the Archos 9, with a longer battery life. It's anybody's guess whether this will be enough to finally take tablets to the big time, but it seems like a good way to start.
  2. WytRaven macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2009
    Orbiting Mercury
  3. EssentialParado macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2005
    So it has Flash, multi-tasking, a horrible battery, and an overly complicated interface? PERFECT! This is exactly what I, and so many other iPad critics have been looking for!

    …Wait, does it have a camera…?
  4. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Kansas City
    As I've posted in several threads, I had the unfortunate experience of using the Archos 9 for a few days prior to returning it. More than anything because I had the Archos 7 PMP and while it was ok for playing stored media, it was very limited to anything else. I figured I'd give it a shot and try out one of the first tablets to be released. Bad idea. This article covers the gamut of issues every tablet that shows up to market that simply decides to shove Windows 7 on it.

    iPad maybe lacking some features people want, but taking the opposite approach and shoving everything into a 10" box doesn't fix it either. Flash on these tablets with Atom chips is not give you the "full internet" either, they cripple the device due to the underpowered hardware trying to run full desktop versions of software.

    The people bashing iPad now, will get their camera, flash support and multitasking on a platform that is just as bad as current netbooks. Actually probably worse, because you won't have a keyboard attached. Trying to use software specifically written for keyboard and mouse is just that much worse trying to manipulate it without.
  5. niuniu macrumors 68020


    Mar 29, 2009
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    Well at least they had the right idea. But typically of Microsoft they can't back it up with the development.
  6. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003

    Post of the day. :D
  7. CylonGlitch macrumors 68030


    Jul 7, 2009
    Sadly I have been working with Windows Mobile devices, on and off, for the last 18 years now. The sad thing is that in almost all cases the hardware is no where near the power it needs to make the experience enjoyable. And when it does get close to it, the battery life is very sad.

    One of the devices I use now, on an almost daily use, has Windows CE 5.x on it, and an ARM processor. It has an AWESOME battery life -- some of the best I have seen. BUT it is not super fast, but fast enough (for a windows XP style interface) and does OK. Many of the features have been removed from the system, and the screen is only black and white. But it does a good job overall. If it was pushed any harder, it would not be good, the user experience would really go down hill... it takes several minutes to boot as it is! :( Oh, and it is about the size of a full sized brick and weighs about the same. I would hate to see windows 7 on this thing.

    As the processors finally start to catch up to the windows experience, and the experience gets to be acceptable (battery life, look and feel, etc..), it seems that someone gets the idea to upgrade to the next OS (in this case Win7) and just push it back to being lousy again. If they would be happy sticking with a little older OS, they could use a modern processor and produce a nice system. But too many companies give in to give them all the bells and whistles even if it means the rest of the experience sucks.

    Look at netbooks. They are good for what they do, but don't go playing Crysis on them, they weren't designed for that and you wouldn't be happy. Same thing with the iPad, some things it was meant to do, it will do well, but I'm sure if they (or you) push it to do more, it won't be as a nice overall experience.
  8. NT1440 macrumors G4


    May 18, 2008
    That isn't "The windows tablet". That is simply a tablet device that runs windows. There is a difference.
  9. master-ceo macrumors 65816


    Sep 7, 2007
    The SUN
  10. *LTD* thread starter macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009
    All tablets that run Windows are tablet devices that run Windows. LOL.

    Microsoft doesn't make tablets.
  11. marksman macrumors 603


    Jun 4, 2007
    Good thing it has native multitasking.

    being able to do things even 10 times slower than described will be mucho funo.
  12. shakenmartini macrumors 6502

    Apr 29, 2008
    Plus, all Windows OS's are tablet capable out of the box now.

    And this is what all the critics wanted, the full blown OS on a tablet and guess what, just like all of us (me included) who have owned tablet devices in past were saying, the experience is terrible.

    Microsofts Tablet PC interface works great on a 12-14" screen with a pen. But as a touch device, no way.
  13. yyy macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2007
    :D That's a good one, it's like saying: "rather than scaling down your car, you should scale up your Bicycle" - good luck driving your huge bicycle on a rainy day...

    And now seriously, Windows tablets failed because they had an awful touch screen or because the OS has never been designed to support it as good as the iPhone OS.

    All Apple has to do is to add multi-touch support for Mac OS X and replace the MacBook's keyboard with another touch screen so you'll get the benefits of a tablet and a laptop in one device.
  14. applesupergeek macrumors 6502a

    Nov 20, 2009
    What right idea? Vapourware and wrong ideas are a staple of ms.

    I feel sorry for Argos because they are trying things out, they should have gone with a home grown linux solution with a nice interface instead, too bad.
  15. *LTD* thread starter macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009
    That's hilarious!
  16. applesupergeek macrumors 6502a

    Nov 20, 2009
    Is that all they have to do? Woooaaa, no one ever thunk it, ever, this is so simple and so profound....

    As for your bicycle analogy, how long did you think about it? That's again so well done!!!

    And sure of course MS failed in tablets because of the awful touch screens not because they hadn't spent an iota in innovation in terms of adjusting their os for a tablet device. Those bad, bad touch screens.

    It all makes sense to me now thanks to your post, it's all so clear and simple...

    So wait, I guess now that touch screens are just fine, ms should be the king in mobile os, their windows mobile, ce, bs or whatever else will have a huge market share right? Oh wait, no, they are epic failures again? Why could that be I wonder....
  17. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Kansas City
    This +1

    I started to type out a response (to yyy), but then just looked at what he posted again... some people will never get it.
  18. rittchard macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2007
    Oh brother, as if I haven't been saying all these things about the Archos 9 for weeks now :rolleyes:

    Here are/were my first impressions just as an FYI:

    Now while everything in the OP is more or less true, there are a number of things you can do to enhance the experience. Changing to an SSD has made the entire system much more responsive, and many report using Readyboost with an external USB drive helps as well (effectively the OS behaves as if it has more RAM). The provided on screen keyboard is crap (both Touch It and the Windows version), but there are some other independent keyboards that work much better. Couple that with toning Win 7 down (primarily reducing Aero) and it is not the slow clunker it's being portrayed as. Another primary complaint was about the lack of ability to play certain video content - the fact is that just like the iPad, it has a sweet spot for the video content to play so you will need to do some work to convert your files to make it happen, at which point the video is great.

    In any case, the A9 is not quite as bad as it sounds from the OP, but you have to really be willing to put the work into it to adapt it to what you want it to do. That's the irony of many of the complainers, who attack Apple for being so "closed" and not allowing you to do this or that. Well, the Archos is a perfect example of what you get with the anti-Apple approach. It more or less leaves everything open for you to do as you will, and contains all the "power" features people whine about the iPad missing (a full desktop OS, camera, Flash, "multi-tasking", etc) - but ultimately the user experience is less than satisfying.

    When I get my iPad, I will write up an A9 vs. iPad showdown just for fun.
  19. t0mat0 macrumors 603


    Aug 29, 2006
    So now the Archos 9 has been panned, what best tablet for Win 7 is out there? Exo is a bulky heavy flop, HP has a prototype...

    Are we waiting for "just a bigger Zune" ?
  20. NT1440 macrumors G4


    May 18, 2008
    What are you laughing about? That was my entire point.

    Calling this device The Windows Tablet is pretty disingenuous.
  21. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Kansas City
    What you just wrote is exactly why the A9 will never go mainstream. No one is going to take the time to rework the OS and change out to a SSD, to make a device work as it should out of the box. Sorry but the majority of the buying public doesn't even have the knowledge of how to "strip down windows 7" to make it useable.

    Think big picture.. not just "well I can make it work". I'd bet not even everyone on these forums is technically adept enough to install a SSD without screwing something up. I read all the time someone posting stuff like " I inserted my SD card in my DVD drive... will Applecare cover this?" Really? :rolleyes:

    How can we expect any company to appeal to the general population of computer users and know they will need to make these kinds of modifications? Sorry not wasting my time doing what Archos should have done prior to shipping the product. HP, Dell and every other company that puts out a box with windows in it will have the same issues trying to sell them.

    User experience wins out over full OS when it comes to mainstream adoption.

    I'm sure you have heard the term: KISS

    Keep It Simple Stupid

    This is what Apple is doing.
  22. applesupergeek macrumors 6502a

    Nov 20, 2009
    no it isn't, if they don't see their os fit for purpose, they shouldn't licence it for a tablet device. But they do, so they are either idiots or too greedy, or (my take) both, and thus they are again embarrassing themselves. It's not like Argos goes around Balmer's house with a shotgun forcing him to license windows for them.
  23. NT1440 macrumors G4


    May 18, 2008
    You guys aren't getting my point.

    The Archos whatever is not The Windows Tablet, like its something that all others should be measured against, its simply a tablet computer that runs Windows. Why LTD thinks it discredits any and all other windows tablets is beyond me.

    Yes there will be successful windows tablets in the future, running full but HEAVILY MODIFIED from a UI and usability standpoint Desktop OS's
  24. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    A Windows Tablet Device... Shortens to Windows Tablet for common use. Seems reasonable.

    Anyhow, the iPad was designed from the ground up to use a finger as the input. This is a much better approach than adapting a desktop OS to recognize finger gestures.
  25. applesupergeek macrumors 6502a

    Nov 20, 2009
    fair point, but you have to concur it's one prominent (another prominent) failed example of a windows running tablet, and that ms hasn't done anything at all to make their case with tablets, they haven't brought anything to the table os wise, yet.

    When are they planning to do this?

    Again as soon as apple makes a case, and they copy the **** of it, thinking they can pull a fast one by not putting forth a new proposition, but by waiting, copying, and taking advantage of hindsight in other peoples' mistakes...very cheap strategy imho.

Share This Page